The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has announced the 395 new members invited to be part of the organisation that determines the Oscars. They come from 50 countries, including Australia, reflecting a remarkable change in Hollywood’s attitude to the world outside.
The first Oscar was presented in 1929, to Emil Jannings, for his work as lead actor in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. He was a German actor lured temporarily to Hollywood, a pebble in a vortex that sucked people from all over the world to build the imagination of America. The award also (allegedly) symbolised so much of the scheming and salesmanship that underlies the Oscars – the first winner of the Best Actor Award was apparently Rin Tin Tin, so the prize went to the highest number of votes given to an actual human being. Indeed we can go even further, as Jannings left after the talkies revealed his German accent, so he made The Blue Angel with Dietrich in Germany, starred in Nazi propaganda films, was shut out of the industry after 1945 and was given a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. Such are the twists and trials of fame.